here's the last installment of homemade gifts for this holiday season. as you can see, we've been enjoying this berry vanilla jam and our first ever attempt at preserving. it was so much fun to boil the jars and then listen intently for the popping noise they make when they seal. we knew we were successful the next day when we checked the seals on all the jars and then opened one right away to taste! when i make small batches of this jam and don't preserve it, i eliminate the pectin - i think it thickens nicely with just the fruit and sugar. we're already enjoying the holidays with family and friends and will try to blog occasionally over the next few weeks from our travels. merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone!

Berry Vanilla Jam
makes eight 8-oz jars

5 cups crushed mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries & blueberries)
1 vanilla bean, cut in half & scrapped
4 tbs lemon juice
1 pkg fruit pectin
7 cups sugar
Combine mixed berries, vanilla bean and lemon juice in a large, stainless steal saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat and stir in pectin until dissolved. Add sugar all at once, stirring constantly, and boil for 1 minute. Follow preserving instructions.


jars & ginger

this ginger cardamom scone recipe is adapted from Nancy Silverton's La Brea Bakery and is a great gift with all the dry ingredients layered in a large mason jar. the scones are delicious, buttery and loaded with chunks of candied ginger! i couldn't help myself and ate two with my espresso this morning. hope you like them as much as i do! also, check us out on Fish & Veggies today - Catherine loved my mom's chili so much she wanted to share it on her beautiful blog.

Ginger Cardamom Scones

2 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp ground cardamom
4 1/2 oz candied ginger, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, frozen
3/4 cup heavy cream, plus extra for brushing
preheat oven to 400 degrees F. in the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cardamom and ginger. pulse to combine. add cold butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine meal. transfer mixture to a bowl and make a well in the center. add the cream and stir with a fork until just combined. gently knead into a ball and roll or pat the dough into a circle on a lightly floured surface about 3/4-inch thick. cut out the scones using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, gathering scraps and pressing the pieces back together until all the dough is used.
brush the tops with remaining cream and bake 14-18 minutes until the tops are lightly brown.


that time of year

i have loved the combination of chocolate and salt since my first bite of Recchiuti's fleur de sel caramels and finally found a recipe that comes close to that heavenly taste. i found it in the december 2006 issue of gourmet and it is now a gift i like to give for Christmas every year. don't be intimidated by candy making! just be careful and have fun. i'll be making holiday gifts all week so check back in to see what other things you might find under the tree.

Salty Chocolate Caramels

2 cups heavy cream
10.5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp kosher salt
flaky sea salt, such as Maldon for garnish
line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. bring cream to a boil over medium high heat. add chocolate and let stand 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. bring sugar, corn syrup, water and salt to a boil in a heavy pan over medium high heat. boil for 10 minutes without stirring until deep golden brown. carefully add chocolate mixture - it will bubble and steam. continue to boil, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes until mixture reaches 245 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Pour immediately into prepared pan and let cool 10 minutes. sprinkle generously with sea salt and cool completely on a rack for about 2 hours.
carefully invert onto a clean cutting board and peel parchment off the bottom. lightly oil the blade of a knife and cut into 1-inch squares. wrap in squares of wax paper and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.


dessert for breakfast

this morning we had dessert for breakfast. some people can't eat sweet syrupy things in the morning but i am blessed with that ability. i've always loved french toast and just recently started experimenting with stuffing it. the possibilities are endless but here's an indulgent chocolate filling to be eaten at any time of day. enjoy!

Chocolate Raspberry Stuffed French Toast

3 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch salt
4 1-inch thick slices crusty bread
1 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
3 tbs raspberry jam
2 tbs unsalted butter
3 tbs confectioner's sugar
preheat oven to 350 degrees F. in a shallow baking dish, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. with a pairing knife, carefully cut a small slit in bottom of each slice of bread to create a pocket. in a small bowl, combine chocolate and jam. spoon a small amount of filling into each slice of bread. soak slices in egg mixture for 3 minutes per side. heat butter in a large skillet and cook slices for 2-3 minutes per side until nicely browned. transfer to a baking sheet and heat in the oven for 5 minutes. to serve, cut each slice in half and dust with confectioner's sugar. top with fresh raspberries and maple syrup.


double dipped

for those of you who are lucky enough to have been to philippe's french dipped sandwiches in l.a., you know exactly what this post is all about.  and for those who have yet to venture over, you need to run, not walk to this famous landmark.  I remember the first time my dad took me there, i'd say i was about 10, and i didn't really understand the lure of the wait in a long line, carry food on your own tray and ruin your mouth with the devils own table side mustard.  it wasn't until many years and many trips later that it all started to make sense.  it's the beauty of the process, the simplicity of the keeping things the same for decades and how that mustard is now the very thing that makes the dip what it really is.  there are hundreds of ways to get a meal, from french dips with any of 5 different meats, to fresh daily pies, to unreal potato and macaroni salad.  when we went last week, my plate had a beef dip, twice dipped, with swiss cheese, potato salad and a side of pickles...and of course a whole lot of that famous mustard.


mom's famous (well sort of...)

i know we've already given you multiple meals in a bowl but i couldn't resist sharing another one. drum roll please - this is my mom's famous chili recipe. i guess it's really only famous in our family but it should be famous because it's that good! it's always better the next day if you can stand not eating the whole pot the night you make it and i never really measure the spices exactly so it tastes a little different each time. the recipe is slightly different from my mom's original and it changes depending on who i'm making it for - some people like more meat, some people like more beans, some people like ground turkey, some people like corn, etc. but whatever you add or take away, it always tastes fantastic. thanks mom!

Mom's Famous Chili

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
15 oz can chopped tomatoes
15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed
15 oz can black beans, rinsed
15 oz can corn, rinsed, or 2 cups frozen (optional)
2 tbs tomato paste
1 bay leaf
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tbs worcestershire sauce
1 beef bouillon cube
3 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs cocoa powder
1-3 tsp hot sauce (tabasco or tapatio)
In a large pot, cook beef until browned. Add onion and pepper and saute until soft. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for about 1 hour. Serve with optional sour cream and grated cheddar cheese.


we heart heath

every time we are in the bay area, we try to hit up the heath ceramics factory & store in sausalito. they recently opened a store in los angeles as well but we haven't checked it out yet. all the pottery is beautiful and i wish our cupboards were overflowing with serving bowls, plates and vases! for now we will have to settle for the few pieces we collect with each visit. these are our two most recent additions.


thanksgiving favorite

thanksgiving was a great meal and we had a lot of fun cooking for everyone. the spread included spinach souffle, wild rice salad, roasted winter vegetables, mashed potatoes with caramelized shallots & creme fraiche, whipped sweet potatoes with orange, buttermilk biscuits with green onion, cranberry tangerine conserve and, of course, turkey. i highly recommend brining a turkey overnight, which we tried for the first time this year. but with all those delicious sides to choose from, our favorite by a landslide was the baked mac & cheese. gooey, oozy, and oh so comforting, this is a dish i'll be making again soon . . . maybe for christmas!

Baked Mac & Cheese

1 pound macaroni or shells
1 quart milk
6 tbs unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
12 oz Gruyere, grated
8 oz sharp cheddar, grated
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup bread crumbs
preheat oven to 375 degrees F. bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. drain well.
heat the milk in a small saucepan over low heat but do not boil. in a large pot, melt butter and add flour. cook over low heat for 2 minutes and stir with a whisk. slowly whisk in the hot milk and cook for 2-4 minutes until smooth and thickened. take off the heat and whisk in cheese, salt and pepper. add the cooked pasta and stir to combine.
pour into a 3-quart baking dish and top with bread crumbs. bake 20-30 minutes until the sauce is bubbly and top is nicely browned. enjoy!


on the road again

we are in our favorite city for the holiday. it's one of our favorite cities for so many reasons but mostly for the food and food related things. we've been to the ferry building multiple times already, had lots of blue bottle coffee, eaten here and here and done some great shopping. but one of our absolute favorites is town hall,where we ate this evening. it's always a treat! we are doing all the cooking on thursday and are heading to farmer's market in the morning to get as much as we can. getting excited to start cooking the more we look at the menu! we'll definitely try to post some pictures of the big event but i hope you all have a wonderful thanksgiving. for now, enjoy the amazing antique collage at town hall and the beautiful view of the bay bridge from just across our window.


biscotti di noce

biscotti is one of the first things i remember learning how to bake. i grew up watching all the great PBS cooking shows with my mom on Sunday mornings with chefs like Martin Yan, Jeff Smith and Mary Ann Esposito. i have made this biscotti recipe from Mary Ann's Ciao Italia for years and years and years. i eventually changed things around to add chocolate, candied ginger, dried cranberries and loads of other additions but in the end this recipe is my go to for a simple breakfast or after dinner biscotti. it is the perfect addition to a great cup of coffee on a cold morning, afternoon or evening!

Orange Almond Biscotti

3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 tbs unsalted butter, melted
1 orange, zested
1 tbs vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup dried cranberries
preheat oven to 350 degrees F. beat eggs and sugar in a medium bowl until thick and pale yellow. beat in butter, orange zest and vanilla. sift flour and baking soda into egg mixture and stir well. add almonds and cranberries and stir until combined but still sticky.
spread dough on greased sheet pan to a flat loaf about 13.5x7.5-inches and bake for 20-23 minutes until firm to the touch. remove, cool and slice into 1/4-inch thick slices. return to the oven for 6-8 minutes per side.



so we have an overflow of lemons, which can never be a bad thing.  I love lemons in so, so many things.  my grandma used to make her lemon meringue pie so tart it would make me pucker!  my favorite pound cake recipe is from a great friend and mentor rori trovato.  it's in her book dishing with style.  best part of the cake is the orange zest and orange flower water for a subtle hint of citrus.  serve a slice of cake with a dollop of lemon curd and fresh whipped cream for a deliciously simple dessert.

Orange Pound Cake with Lemon Curd

pound cake:
5 eggs
1 tsp orange blossom water
1 tsp vanilla
zest of 1 orange
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups cake flour
preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and line bottom with parchment.  whisk together eggs, orange blossom water, vanilla and zest.  with an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar and salt.  add egg mixture slowly and scrape down sides of bowl.  on low, add flower in two batches and mix until fully incorporated.  bake 70-75 minutes until set and lightly brown.  cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

lemon curd:
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbs lemon zest
pinch of salt
5 eggs, beaten
combine sugar, butter, lemon juice, zest and salt in a heavy saucepan.  stir over medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves.  remove from heat and gradually whisk in eggs.  return to medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until thickened.  pour into a new bowl to cool.  chill overnight in bowl with plastic wrap directly on surface.


longing for napa

as promised, here are some more shots from napa a few weeks back.  the editing has been fun as we think napa is such an amazing place and we want to go back now!!  this goat is one of four on the property at medlock ames winery that roam the vineyard to eat the weeds and keep the vines neat and clean in between growing seasons.  the ice cream is from the amazing three twins ice cream in the oxbow market.  please read the story of their organic ice cream if you get a chance.  and lastly, the chef from solbar restaurant at solage in napa.  it's an outtake from shooting him with his garden boxes, where he grows some veggies and herbs to use in their local and sustainable menu.  oh how we miss napa, can someone please hire us to go up again soon...thanks melissa...


rancho gordo

several months ago a friend told me about these great heirloom beans out of napa and then i started reading about them everywhere and knew i had to get some. on our recent road trip, i found anasazi beans and posole at the fatted calf and then bought this at a local bookstore. i usually buy beans in a can and can't be bothered with soaking anything overnight but i must admit i am now a believer. there are many other great types of beans and recipes that i'm excited to explore but here is my first attempt with rancho gordo.

Chicken & Posole Verde

1 cup dried anasazi beans (somewhere between a pinto and kidney bean)
1 cup dried posole
1 bulb garlic, cut in half, not peeled
2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
10 tomatillos, husked, rinsed and quartered
2 pasilla chilies, seeded and roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tbs olive oil
2 cups chicken stock
1 tbs white wine vinegar
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp ground cumin
1-2 tsp cholula or mexican hot sauce
2 chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
for garnish: cilantro, sour cream, avocado, green cabbage

soak beans and posole 4 hours or overnight and drain. in separate pots, cover beans and posole with water and add 1/2 garlic bulb and 1/2 onion to each. cook until tender, drain and set aside.
preheat oven to 350 degrees F. on a sheet pan, combine tomatillos, one onion, chilies, garlic and olive oil and toss to coat. roast until softened and a little charred, about 40 minutes. cool completely. in a blender or food processor, puree roasted vegetables until smooth.
in a large pot, combine pureed tomatillo sauce, chicken stock, vinegar, lime juice, cumin and cholula. add chicken, cooked beans and posole. bring to a simmer and cook until chicken is done. stir in cilantro and serve with optional garnishes of more cilantro, sour cream, diced avocado and shredded cabbage. enjoy!


scallops & slaw

this dish is full of great flavors and leaves you with a little hint of spice on your lips. a spoonful chili garlic paste in the marinade provides the kick and it is an ingredient that you must have in your cupboard! look for sambal in the asian ingredient isle of the market or specialty store and use it in sauces and marinades for scallops, shrimp, pork and chicken. i'm not a big spicy person but am constantly trying to be. this is one spice i actually love because it's not too hot and leaves an amazing flavor in your mouth.

Seared Scallops with Fennel Apple Slaw

1 tsp fish sauce
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tsp hoisin
1/2 tsp sambal chili garlic paste
6 scallops, tough muscle removed from side
1 bulb fennel
1 granny smith apple, peeled
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 tbs rice wine vinegar
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
1 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper

In a small bowl, combine fish sauce, sesame oil, hoisin and sambal. Add scallops and toss to coat. Marinate for 30 minutes.
On a mandolin, finely slice fennel and apple. Combine with scallions, lime juice, vinegar, cilantro and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Heat a saute pan over medium high heat and add a little oil. Season scallops with salt and pepper and sear scallops until nicely browned, about 4-5 minutes on each side.


guinness is good for you

in need of a winter stew that takes just about as much effort as drinking a guinness itself?  step right up.  a cure for all those busy winter days is a trusty crock pot.  we probably only bust it out 4-5 times a winter, but when we do we always enjoy the ease and wonderful result.  and when any dish has the words guinness, beef and puff pastry in the ingredients, you know your in for a good one.  enjoy this irish inspired winter treat.

Beef & Guinness Pie

2 lbs boneless beef chuck, fat trimmed & cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tbs flour
olive oil (for browning beef)
2 tbs tomato paste
2 tbs dijon mustard
4 cloves garlic, smashed
3 carrots, peeled & chopped
2 onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 parsnips, peeled & chopped
8 fingerling potatoes, chopped
1 beef bullion cube
3 sprigs fresh thyme
6 leaves sage, chopped
20 oz stout, 2 bottles or 1 1/2 cans Guinness
1-2 tbs cornstarch (optional)
2 sheets puff pastry
1 large egg + 1 tbs water

Combine beef and flour in a large ziploc bag and shake to coat. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Shake excess flour from meat and cook beef until nicely browned on all edges. Add tomato paste, mustard and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes and set aside. Combine all vegetables, beef bullion, herbs and reserved meat in a crock pot. Cover with beer and a little water if needed. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. If broth has not reached desired thickness, take about 1/2 cup broth and whisk with 1 tbs cornstarch. Stir into crock pot and let thicken, repeat if necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spoon stew into ovenproof bowls and top with squares of puff pastry, pressing down to seal. Brush with egg wash and bake 14-18 minutes, until pastry is puffed and golden.


design sponge

mmm,  crispy ham and cheese breakfast polenta! here's a fun new recipe we created for the wonderful people over at design sponge for their weekly post "in the kitchen with." for the complete recipe and more photos look here. thanks to grace and all the people at design sponge for their beautiful blog filled with great design and daily inspirations!


everything but the kitchen sink

one of the many perks of our profession is leftovers. sometimes i'll come home from a shoot with grocery bags full of leftover ingredients and then need to figure out what to do with twenty onions, two acorn squash and five boxes of fresh thyme. soup! better yet soupe au pistou with some crusty bread to soak up the flavorful broth on a cool autumn evening while watching the presidential election results and enjoying a nice bottle of pinot noir. pistou is just like pesto but without the pine nuts and adds great flavor to any vegetable soup. hopefully you'll use whatever random ingredients you have in your pantry to make some soup soon too!

Leftover Soupe au Pistou

5 sweet italian sausage, removed from casing
2 medium onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled & chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 zucchini, chopped
1 acorn squash, peeled, seeds removed and chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, smashed
about 6 cups chicken stock (or half stock & half water)
1 14.5 oz can chopped tomatoes
2 cups cooked brown rice

In a large pot, saute sausage until brown. Drain and set aside. Saute onion, carrot and celery 5 minutes until soft and then add zucchini and squash. Cook 5 more minutes and then add rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and garlic and cook 1 minute until fragrant. Cover with stock, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add cooked sausage, tomatoes and brown rice and simmer until you're ready to eat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with a spoonful of pistou and grated parmesan cheese.


salting, smoking, curing, cooking

once in a while you come across a place in your travels that just makes you feel a little better. in this case, it was a place that made us feel a lot better.  these pics are some outtakes from a story we shot last week of the fatted calf in napa, ca, a place that you can only fall in love with.   i guess i should re-state that, if you are a meat eater, this is a place you would fall in love with. the product they serve is not only plentiful, but is top, top quality.  everything we tasted was off the charts tasty, the service outstanding, and had the feel of old time butcher shop with a modern twist.  from home made cured meats to ready to go home duck confit.  if you are ever in downtown napa and are near the oxbow market, take a peek at this perfect charcuterie heaven.



we just got the great new cookbook Baked by these guys and this is the first recipe we've tried. so far so good and just in time for halloween! the recipe makes two loaves so you can keep one and give one to a friend.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf
(from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)

3 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
15 oz canned pumpkin
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
12 oz dark chocolate chips
preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease two 9x5-inch loaf pans. whisk flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. in another bowl, stir together pumpkin and oil. then add sugar and combine. stir in eggs one at a time and add vanilla. add 3/4 cup room temperature water and then stir in chocolate chips. fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture and combine but do not over mix. divide between two loaf pans and bake 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes. cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.


on the road

we are up in napa valley on a job for the week. these images are from our third stop at bouchon bakery in 24 hours - iced coffee and pastries upon arrival, ham & cheese croissant and a cappuccino for breakfast and then a late afternoon cookie break. nice to get out of southern california to enjoy the beautiful fall colors and to shoot some great sustainable wineries, eco hotels and local restaurants. more pics from our trip to come soon!


single malt

an obsession of mine for some time now is collecting and learning as much about scotch as much as i can.  the collecting part is well on its way, and the learning part is still with its training wheels.  every trip to hi time wine cellars in orange county when i am visiting back home brings me back with a new bottle or two.  a few days ago i came back with the japanese scotch yamazaki, which was well worth the purchase.  and recently, good friends gave me the other two bottles pictured above for a recent birthday, a cask strength macallan and a 25 year talisker, both absolutely amazing in completely different ways.  the other pic is from the morning after a big night out in san fran, the evidence on our hotel window sill.  last night we had a small scotch tasting at our house, tasting about 12 different scotch's which was a blast.  i believe the only way to truly enjoy a prized scotch is to enjoy it with friends.  and although i can't tell you all i've learned quite yet, i can tell you this is the only way to learn...taste, taste, taste...


taleggio & kabocha

we love pizza and there is nothing better than making it at home. this dough recipe comes from vogue magazine, random i know, and is one of my favorite doughs to make if i have the time for homemade crust. the toppings are inspired by a pizza giada de laurentiis made on everyday italian when i worked as the food stylist on the last season. changed the cheeses, different squash and added pancetta because everything tastes better with pancetta!

Taleggio & Kabocha Pizza
1/4 cup white wine
3/4 cup warm water
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 tbs honey
1 tsp salt
1 tbs olive oil
3 cups flour
combine wine, water and yeast in a large bowl and stir until dissolved. add honey, salt and olive oil. mix thoroughly and add 1 cup of flour to make a wet paste. Add remaining flour and knead lightly on lightly floured surface for 2-3 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let rise 45 minutes.

1/2 kobocha squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tbs maple syrup
1 tsp red pepper flakes
6 slices pancetta
5 oz taleggio cheese, sliced
1 oz goat cheese
1 cup arugula
preheat oven to 375 degrees F. on a sheet pan, toss squash with maple syrup and red pepper and roast for 25 minutes. crisp pancetta in the oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees F and cool. increase oven to 450 degrees F. roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick on lightly floured surface and evenly distribute slices of taleggio. bake 8-10 minutes until crust begins to brown and cheese is bubbly. sprinkle pizza with crumbled goat cheese, pancetta and roasted squash. return to oven to 3-5 minutes until goat cheese is softened and crust is golden. top with arugula and give it a drizzle of good olive oil and some fresh cracked black pepper.


feelin saucy

here are a couple of shots for your monday from a shoot i did for a client who is using the images for wall art. each image will be approximately 5 foot square.  they should be pretty fun.  all of the shots are food related and here we have the much under used in the states, hp sauce, along with some sardines packed in a bbq sauce.  both images were shot with a ring flash which can be oh so addicting to use... 


deep purple

i've never been a huge fan of grape flavored anything - popsicles, gum, cough syrup, jelly. it's not my thing. but when i saw this grape jam tart recipe in the october issue of martha stewart living something made me want to try it. the jam almost didn't make it into the tart because it was so good on it's own that i wanted to slather it all over buttered toast or just eat it with a spoon. i don't have a non-fluted tart pan so i made it in a vintage pie tin and it still turned out great. serve a slice at room temperature with a dollop of creme fraiche or plain yogurt and enjoy!

Concord Grape Jam Tart
(from martha stewart living october 2008)

2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup ice water
in a food processor, pulse flour, sugar and salt. add butter and process until mixture resembles coarse meal. with the machine running, slowly add water until mixture begins to form a ball. remove and shape into 2 disks. wrap in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour.

1 1/2 lbs concord grapes, stems removed
3 tbs lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup coarse sugar for sprinkling, like turbinado
combine grapes and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over high heat. cook, stirring frequently, until grapes release their juices, about 7 minutes. strain through a fine sieve. return juice to saucepan over high heat, stir in sugar and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer until temperature reaches 220 degrees. transfer to a bowl and cool.

on a lightly floured surface, roll out each disk of dough to 1/8-inch thickness. transfer one round into tart pan or pie tin and trim edges flush with pan. place other round on a sheet pan lined with parchment and freeze both for 15 minutes. 
preheat oven to 375 degrees. spread about 1 cup of grape jam in bottom of pan. brush top edge of dough with 1 beaten egg. slide the remaining dough round on top and press edges to seal. trim excess dough and crimp with a fork. brush top with egg and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. refrigerate for 30 minutes. bake tart for 15 minutes, then gently tap pan on counter to release air bubbles and return to oven for 15 minutes, until golden brown. cool on a wire rack.


one year

happy first anniversary to us! can't believe how quickly a year has flown by already but it's been a nice one. these are two polaroids we took on our honeymoon in kauai - oh to be lounging in the pool with a mai tai in hand.


in season

i adore the taste of figs and goat cheese together. here's a really simple but delicious appetizer or snack to fix while fresh figs are available. you could use any kind of bread, cheese and jam you have on hand but this was an exceptionally tasty combination and i'm loving the balsamic sweet onion jam we just picked up at williams-sonoma! enjoy.

Fig & Goat Cheese Crostini

1 loaf walnut & currant bread
4 oz goat cheese, room temperature
1 jar balsamic sweet onion jam
1 basket fresh figs, washed and quartered

Toast 1/4-inch thick slices of bread until golden and cut into small squares or circles. Spread with about 1 tbs goat cheese and top with 1 tsp jam and a piece of fig.


chambord and ginger ale

our new drink is a tasty one.  even though the weather in most parts of the country is nearing winter, out west, its still hot as can be.  so here is a cool you down cocktail that can be enjoyed any time of year.  we made this with vodka, but if your a gin person, it will work as well.

glass with ice
2 oz vodka 
1 oz chambord
juice from 1/2 lime
top with ginger ale (about 4oz, but more if you please)
garnish with a lime

using top shelf vodka is always a must.  and this drink really tastes better if you can get your hands on a nice bottled ginger ale.  we used boylans, and its make such a difference. 



bowling green

lawn bowling is a sport all its own.  here are a few shots from a story i did for santa barbara magazine.  the classy men and women that play in santa barbara a few days a week make a sport that is surprisingly hard (in case you didn't know, the balls aren't round), look way too easy. this vintage vibe shows how wearing all white may be the coolest thing around.  if you have never played, take a trip to your local lawn bowling club and take a lesson from the pros!


farewell to summer

i have subjected my friends to different versions of corn salad all summer and i apologize that it took me so long to come up with this version - it is by far my favorite! although corn has almost disappeared from farmer's market, the tomatoes are looking more beautiful than ever and i still have many ripening on my patio. we actually have rain in the forecast for tomorrow so i consider this my farewell to summer salad. Enjoy!

Creamy Corn Salad

2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 medium heirloom tomatoes, cut into chunks
1/2 ripe avocado, diced
2 ears corn, blanched and cut off the cob
1 cup garbanzo beans
juice of 1/2 lime
2-3 tbs olive oil
1 tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 ounce goat cheese, crumbled
salt & pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients together in a bowl. Stir well to combine and to distribute the avocado and goat cheese into a creamy coating for the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve at room temperature.


scarlet begonias

today feels just a little bit too much like summer is still around.  its hot and sticky and we really want the fall to make itself official.  these begonias were shot for santa barbara magazine for a future article and these were a couple polaroids from the shoot.  i just remember the shoot day as a cool, cloudy, nice fall feeling day in the middle of the summer.  and i can't help but think of some lyrics when i shot the begonias...here is what was in my head...

...she had rings on her fingers and bells on her shoes
and i knew without asking she was into the blues
she wore scarlet begonias, tucked into her curls
i knew right away she was not like other girls
-grateful dead


i love curry

here's a recipe i picked up on a shoot with curtis stone, that tall blonde aussie chef. it's one of my favorite curries because it's so easy and you can add whatever you like or happen to have in the fridge. we usually make it with chicken but tofu or lobster would be great too. the sweetness of the fresh pineapple is a perfect compliment to the heat from the red curry paste. you might need to make a trip to a specialty grocery store but everyone should know where their local asian market is and have fun wandering the isles for new goodies!

Quick Curry

14 oz coconut milk
2 tbs red curry paste
1 1/2 tbs fish sauce
1 small knob ginger, peeled & sliced
8 oz chinese long beans
1 1/2 tsp tamarind paste
1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
2 kaffir lime leaves
2 chicken breasts, chopped
1/2 cup thai basil

In a saucepan, bring coconut milk to a simmer and stir in curry paste, fish sauce and ginger. Add beans, tamarind, pineapple and lime leaves and bring back to a simmer. Add chicken and simmer until chicken is cooked through and beans are tender. Stir in chopped basil and season with salt to taste.


vegas foodie travels

here are a few pics from our recent travels to vegas.  i feel like we tried to eat as much as we could.  the pics above are a coaster from cut las vegas, a business card from the sous chef at bouchon las vegas, a toothpick from a burger at blt burger las vegas, and lastly a some poker chips from the wynn from some fun we had while we wern't eating.  

i could talk about the trip forever, but i will not bore you.  I will say however, the kind people at bouchon gave us a tour of the kitchen, and for all you who know, thomas keller is crazy about his kitchens.  It was a beautiful show of what a major kitchen should be.  and the amount of workers was absolute madness.  what a treat...

and i have to mention my american kobe ribeye from cut was out of this world.  a little on the pricey side, but wolfgang puck has outdone himself.  and maybe the best side dishes of all time.  we will need to check out the l.a. one soon.  

viva las vegas...


it seems like our bananas get brown faster than most bananas. maybe it's all the other fruits and vegetables we put them next too but either way it means more banana bread for us! there are about a million recipes out there but this is my own adaptation of one i really like at the moment. don't worry, not all our recipes will be this healthy.

Banana Mini Loaves

3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp salt
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 eggs
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix the wet & dry ingredients separately and then combine and mix well. Pour into a well greased mini-loaf pan and back for 25 minutes. You can bake these for the same amount of time in a muffin tin or bake a whole loaf for 38-40 minutes.


simple simple syrup

this mid-week drink is a twist on one of our old favorites, the greyhound proper. we've been experimenting with infusing lately, from cheap tequila to simple syrup. here's a cocktail we created to highlight our favorite infused simple syrup so far - rosemary!

the syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 2-inch sprigs rosemary
combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. remove the pan from the heat, cover and let steep 20 minutes. strain through a fine sieve and store in a jar in the refrigerator for up to a month.

the drink
1 part gin (please use a decent gin, it does make a difference)
1 part rosemary simple syrup
2 parts fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
juice from 1/2 lime
place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake.  pour over ice in a highball glass and add a lime wedge for garnish.  add some salt to the rim of your glass if you so desire.


recycled and organic

here are a few pictures from a catalog i shot this week for a new eco conscious clothing line ecozuzu.  our friends at ecozuzu are relaunching their look and asked us to come along for the ride.  ecozuzu clothing is made of recycled and organic materials and are printed in a earth friendly way!  here are a few of our favorite polaroids from the shoot.  we'll let you know when the new ecozuzu site is up and running.



it's not technically fall for another week or so but we're getting excited for our favorite season. these are from a shoot we did this week and i developed the recipes for the article on holiday side dishes. here's the pumpkin tart recipe and i'll share the beet & orange salad recipe soon. hope it gets you in the mood.

Pumpkin Tart with Toasted Nut Crust

1/4 cup each almonds, walnuts & hazelnuts (toasted & cooled)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbs flax seeds
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbs chilled unsalted butter, diced
1 egg yolk
grease a 9-inch tart pan. grind nuts, flour, flax seeds, sugar and salt in a food processor. add butter and pulse until a coarse meal forms. add egg yolk and pulse until moist clumps form. press dough into bottom and sides of pan about 1/4-inch thick and pierce the bottom with a fork. freeze for 30 minutes. preheat oven to 400 degrees F. bake 12-14 minutes until golden and let cool for 20 minutes.

3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tbs molasses
1 tbs vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 15oz can pumpkin puree
2/3 cup plain yogurt
preheat oven to 375 degrees F. whisk together brown sugar, eggs, molasses, vanilla, salt, and spices. whisk in pumpkin and yogurt until combined. pour filling into cooled shell and spread evenly. bake until set, 35-40 minutes. cool completely in pan on a wire rack.


fresh starts...

photographer meets food stylist, marries last october, trying to live the dream.  based in los angeles, sharing time in lovely santa barbara, we needed a creative outlet to explore all things we love.  an obvious choice was to mix photography and food and sprinkle in a little of what inspires us day to day, week to week.  this blog will be our way of showing you our own recipes and our vision of how they should look through our eyes.  this is our outlet, our fresh start...pictures and pancakes...